History lessons

From Think Progress via Daily Kos: George Washington and ideology at the Court

In 1795, President George Washington nominated Justice John Rutledge to be Chief Justice of the United States. Rutledge, a former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and current Chief Justice of South Carolina, was “well qualifed” by any standard, but Senate partisans blocked his nomination for one simple reason: ideology. Justice Rutledge opposed the Jay Treaty, a hot button issue in 1795. Because Senate Federalists couldn’t bear to see a Jay Treaty opponent on the Court, Rutledge’s nomination was rejected 14-10.

Unlike President Bush, President Washington respected the right of the Senate to reject judicial nominations. In 1789, Washington had even explained just how free the Senate was to do so: “Just as the President has a right to nominate without assigning reasons, so has the Senate a right to dissent without giving theirs.”

Not that it will matter to the Radical Right. But you know, it’s just worth noting that the Senate’s advice and consent role goes all the way back to the beginning of the Republic. Remember, the Republic?

2 thoughts on “History lessons”

  1. Bush would most certainly respect an up or down vote for his upcoming nominee. No doubt he’s praying for one. The only people who seem to have a problem with the Senate’s right to accept or reject judicial nominees are the filibuster prone Democrats. If the left wants to start getting judges in the courts who have their own ideological stripes, then perhaps they should start winning elections. If radical conservatives are as dimwitted and incorrigible as you suggest, it shouldn’t be that hard.

  2. It is very interesting to me that Washington would nominate someone to the court that held an antithetical view to his own, especially one dealing with our relations with a major commercial and political power. The rejection by the Senate of Rutledge may have been ideological at the time but it was probably in the best interests of a young and broke country that needed the protections of the Jay treaty and peace with England.

    Bush will not nominate anyone that does not agree with him on issues like abortion, the establishment clause and the primacy of the office of POTUS. To my continuing surprise I have watched ambitious and intelligent men and women continue to submit the power of their office to this Administration. The Senate has the obligation to advise the executive branch in this momentous and far-reaching decision. An up & down vote will not do any branch of government any good, except the executive. And I think we have seen just how much this administration has been willing to abuse its privilege. A heavier congressional hand on the reins won’t hurt a bit.

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